Archive for August 2012

Time wasted as procrasti-nation speaks

The BBC has taken it upon itself, as a public service broadcaster, to inform the nation of its most ‘epic’ examples of procrastination. And who could possibly disagree with the description of these vast, sprawling sagas, of ancient hills, galaxies at war, and civilisations’ rise and fall as anything other than epoch-defining? The case for the prosecution:

A friend of mine, who I’ll call ‘Dave’ (because that was his name) said he would do anything to avoid A-level revision. At one point he infamously found himself weighing the cat, convinced that he would only be able to settle down to work if he had that data to hand. As a result, some 25 years later, the act of procrastination is referred to by my family as ‘weighing the cat’. – Ian Whitten, Sittingbourne, Kent

This story is ‘epic’ in the same sense as Dave’s mates refer to him as a ‘legend’ because of his involvement in this very anecdote. I bet he’s now the joker in the office with the hilarious tie who puts salt in the sugar bowl. I mean, ‘weighing the cat’?! Who weighs a cat?! That’s so absurd. Let’s hope Dave doesn’t procrastinate again any time soon, or maybe he’ll sharpen the wrong end of everyone’s pencils, so they have two points and might cause graphite to get on people’s shirt cuffs. He’s totally off the chain, he could do it. I’m serious. Somebody stop that guy. Or at least cover his desk in silly string: that’ll go some way towards slowing him down, while we think of a more permanent solution to this mythical vagabond’s reign of terror.

I still haven’t decided what colour towels I’m having. – Caroline, Wirral

Yeah, I’m pretty sure Aragorn says that on assuming the throne of Gondor.

I bought a book called 52 Steps To Defeating Procrastination. I’ve still never read it—it was over 10 years ago, and I’m not even sure where it is now. – Craig, Bedfordshire, UK

Really? The only other occurrence of this zany book title on the Internet is on joke- and racism-collating site Sickipedia. Good to see that the BBC Magazine’s epic fact-checking doesn’t extend to visiting the Great Library of Alexandria in their time machine, or indeed the world’s most popular search engine on their laptop.

Verdict

Grand Vizier Kara Ibrahim Pasha is not in the annals of history for the time he decided not to bother invading Vienna, and instead wandered through his palace in his pants contemplating the weight of his cat. Why not? Because it’s not interesting, that’s why. If he’d invented the weighing scale because of this, it’d be interesting. It still wouldn’t be epic, unless he weighed a fucking mountain or something, or the entire Habsburg army in a tactically brilliant Trojan-Horse-style ruse where, as they stood on the scales, he overthrew their leaders with a crack team of felines whose mass had been determined previously.

Is it even possible for procrastination, the act of deferring doing potentially-epic stuff, to be epic? Surely, having got distracted from a task to such an extent that your alternative task could be described as ‘epic’, you’re not so much procrastinating as ‘doing something else’. (This is basically Dave Gorman’s career plan.)

So what have you done today, BBC Magazine readers? Wasted time by reading the BBC Magazine? Wasted time by writing an article about reading the BBC Magazine? Wasted time by reading an article written about reading the BBC Magazine? Well, let’s hope this Russian doll of self-referential tedium causes the Internet to collapse, so we’ll have more interesting things to waste our time doing.

Written by Tom and Statto

August 30, 2012 at 12:27

Posted in BBC

Off-world record record mars Mars landing

It cannot have escaped the notice of puny Earthlings that a NASA six-leg-wheeled laser-toting nuclear insectoid robo-beast (the younger, steroid-abusing brother of Sir Killalot) is sitting at the bottom of a crater, next to a massive mountain, on the surface of Mars.

But, before getting on with any science, the plutonium-powered spider-lab is set this evening to beam will.i.am’s specially-penned choon Reach for the Stars back to NASA, making it the first ever human music to be broadcast from another planet. This bizarre PR stunt is designed to boost Mr. i.am’s already-stratospheric ego into geostationary orbit from whence it will search, sneeringly, for signs of intelligent life on Earth. The transmission, which we hope will be encrypted with appropriate DRM lest any old idiot with a ham radio be able to pirate it, will finally prove the long-doubted principle that radio waves can travel through space even though there isn’t any air. It is, therefore, quite a shame that we won’t want them when they get here.

After playing Reach for the Stars, it is planned that the Curiosity rover will continue its mission and climb every mountain higher, scaling the nearby Mount Sharp in a bid to find interesting rock samples, such as Muse’s Knights of Cydonia, to broadcast back to Earth in place of any more of this hip-hop/R&B nonsense.

Written by Statto and Tom

August 28, 2012 at 16:27

Posted in science

B&Q Klux Klan

B&Q shows its true colours…

Written by Tom

August 23, 2012 at 21:49

Posted in dustbin

BBC’s GCS-ease

In a brilliant piece of headline–photo juxtaposition, the BBC have not only managed to create a caricature of the cliché of photogenic young ladies brandishing exam results…

…they’ve also made it look rather like the nation’s A* teenage totty are celebrating the first drop in results in a quarter-century: ‘GCSE results are worse! YAY!’

As for analysis, there are only two possible explanations:

  • Exams have been getting easier, and the students have got even stupider than exam simplification could alleviate; or
  • Man-made climate change is a myth.

Either way, Tory success! We finally made the kids look stupid! YAY!

Written by Statto and Tom

August 23, 2012 at 13:34

Posted in BBC, UK news

Econo-mix metaphors

The Bank of England today cut its growth forecast for 2012 to almost zero, and its governor, Mervyn King, therefore made some comments about the UK economy. To pull together his quotes from the BBC article on this:

The big picture is that output’s been flat for two years…. We are navigating rough waters and storm clouds continue to roll in from the euro area…. Unlike the Olympians who have thrilled us over the past fortnight, our economy has not yet reached full fitness…. It’s a saga that goes on, and on, and on…. There’s still a long way to go.

It’s quite a surprise that Merv didn’t go on to say that ‘we’re sick as a parrot, and our timbers are shivering. The economy is like a tank with no wheels; even though the turret is loaded, we can’t get to the shop to buy strawberries.’

Thankfully, the asininities weren’t reserved only for arguably the most important economist in Britain. The BBC also explained that:

He said that the future was unpredictable, since no-one could predict what would happen in the eurozone crisis, which would have an impact on the UK.

I get it! Finally! Someone explains clearly that things are unpredictable because no-one can predict them! So, conversely, if someone can predict something, it’s probably no longer unpredictable. Is that right? For example, you could predict that economics news will forever be delivered as a slew of disconnected but reassuringly folksy analogy, but you couldn’t predict exactly the shape, size, origin, colour, or other arbitrary properties (dependent on the metaphor in question) of the storm clouds that will come over from the latest crisis, because weather economic forecasting is hard, especially when the jet stream is determined to ruin your economy. Summer. Chances of Olympic gold. Whatever.

Back to the Beeb:

The pound jumped in value to 1.27 euros on the money markets following Sir Mervyn’s comments.

The temperature in Weymouth changed too, but reporters stopped short of noting everything else that happened shortly after King’s chat because correlation and causation aren’t the same thing. But, even suspending scepticism for a moment, is the narrative being entertained here that ‘the markets’ are now confident that at least Merv knows about the storm clouds—which he has been discussing for years in metaphors as forced as this attempt to add a simile into this parenthetical remark—even if he still doesn’t know what to do about them? Brilliant. At least we know where we are: inside the body of a healing athlete trying to predict when the unpredictable choppy waters will subside. Right?

Written by Tom and Statto

August 8, 2012 at 13:14

Posted in BBC, economics